Training while on the road was half restricted to what could be done while moving. That included such things as running in armor or while carrying heavy weights. In Barrett’s case, he was doing both. He was carrying one of Master Hykel’s magic bags, the sort that didn’t reduce the weight of anything inside. Instead of a run, he moved at more of a fast jog.
Barrett breathed in and out steadily as his feet impacted the wide dirt road. He remembered when he could barely lift the bag off of the ground- and now he could move at a decent pace with it. That was what a whole tier of body training would do, after all. Master Hykel now also had heavier bags. In the time Barrett had started training with him to becoming third tier, Master Hykel had gone from middle fifth tier to reach sixth tier.
“You’re lucky I need to train too,” Master Hykel commented, “Because what I have total is still too heavy for you. Otherwise, I was considering making you carry me.”
Barrett considered how that might work. He could carry Master Hykel piggyback… and that sounded like the most awkward thing ever. Barrett was almost the same height as Master Hykel- he might even grow taller than him in the next year or two, or he might stop- and nearly the same size overall. Master Hykel was a little bit bulkier looking, but none of the Immortal Berserkers were huge. At least, not the same way as many warriors ended up, with biceps twenty centimeters across. Immortal Berserkers used a training method that took longer to reach very high levels of muscle power but left them a bit more flexible. Of course, anyone who got to fourth tier or higher had their own methods to maximize the effectiveness of whatever they were going for.
Anyway, carrying Master Hykel on his back would not be the best method. Perhaps he could balance on Barrett’s shoulders… that would keep all of the force in line with Barrett’s body. It had its own set of faults, but as long as they weren’t trying any complicated maneuvers Barrett thought they could pull it off. The only problem was at this point that would just break all of Barrett’s body. Barrett wasn’t sure how many tonnes Master Hykel was carrying, but it was several.
After a week of travel, Barrett saw clouds on the horizon, atop the sharp peaks of a mountain range. Master Hykel explained, “Those are the Lightning Mountains. There’s a safe path around to the north, but around the south is the great Lightning Lake- nearly big enough to be called a sea- the main contributor to the near-constant storms there, at least during the on season. Because of all that, we will be going…”
“Over the mountains… right?” Barrett knew how Master Hykel worked, “They’re a second tier natural danger zone during the summer.”
“Of course we’re going through. You haven’t had much experience with real lightning.” Master Hykel nodded, “When we get close, you’ll take off your armor. It will attract lightning, but will also partly divert it around your body. That will skew the training I have in mind. You’re to recognize where the lightning will strike, and avoid it.”
“Or get hit, probably.”
Master Hykel grinned, “I’ll be here to restart your heart in case it’s necessary. Otherwise, this shouldn’t have any chance of killing you. If the curse becomes a problem… we can reorient ourselves then.”
The pair didn’t actually enter the Lightning Mountains that day. They stopped near the base of the mountains for the night, and Barrett got some rest. He barely remembered what actual sleep was like, or what it was like to not constantly be interrupted by a curse trying to kill him. Eventually, it might actually succeed. It had been less than a year, and he’d ended near dead several times, even when he thought he was being safe. Now that it had grown stronger, it was even more of a danger.
Sure, he could recover from the internal damage it was doing- and even grow back stronger- but if he got unlucky, or if it got clever, it could do enough damage to his heart that it stopped working… and then he would be dead. He was starting to recognize what parts of him would be damaged as he fought, so he was careful about how he fought against the curse.
Before they even got close enough for rain, Barrett felt and saw the wind. There were no grasses or plants in the area to betray the wind’s motions, but there were leaves and twigs from the surrounding area. Along with that came a consistent if thin cloud of dust, sand, and small pebbles rolling up the mountain. When the winds briefly stopped they would partially roll back down the slope, but then the wind would pick up and they would continue on their way up the mountains.
The direction they entered from didn’t immediately have any rain, though clouds were dark in the sky and Barrett could see rain and lightning up ahead. Thunder boomed constantly in the area. The sand on the ground grew thicker, until it was more than just a thin coating.
There were no plants or animals around, but there were strange scraggly rocks that stood out from the ground like tentacles reaching out. They felt almost like the plants around the Metal Sea, except these clearly weren’t alive.
Barrett looked up ahead, “The rain is constant up there, but it’s dry here. Where does the water go?”
Master Hykel nodded, “There are large gullies, streams that carry the water back to the Lightning Lake. They will catch everything coming down from this angle. Be careful, even though there is no rain here, lightning will soon be an issue.”
As if to punctuate a point, a few hundred meters away lightning struck the ground. Barrett was glad he hadn’t been directly looking at it, and his hearing was slightly hampered for a few moments. As he looked where it had struck, he saw an orange glowing structure sticking out of the ground- like the others he had seen on the way. “Is that how these things appear?”
Master Hykel nodded once more, “That’s lightning glass. The surrounding winds converge on this mountain, and the sand they bring back with them become lightning glass. Now, that lightning was a bit far to have felt much, but keep your energy senses ready. If you’re lucky, there will be a close one so you can get a feel for it before we get to the more dangerous areas.”